Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 1, 2018

Pick Up The Stick

Over the past several years, I have written much about the injustices suffered by women and young girls in India. While traveling to India in 2013, I read a fascinating story about the Gulabi Gang — a coalition of women who were fed up with the abuse of women on the subcontinent. Now more than 20,000 strong, these pink clad village women hold abusive men accountable for their violent behavior against women.


My friend Vinita Shaw is a strong advocate of women’s rights in India. She has become a powerful voice against everything from the feticide of preborn girls to the rape of very young girls and women and more. She has written several books addressing these issues, spoken around the globe and at the United Nations, and speaks on a weekly radio program that we underwrite that reaches a huge national audience.

Vinita recently wrote to tell me about an encounter she had with a little girl — and what turned into a preschool version of the Gulabi Gang. She is right to point out that families in India must change their attitude toward and tolerance of the abuse of girls lest they continue to contribute to a climate that is unhealthy and dangerous for girls and women. Here is what Vinita wrote:

As I soaked in the winter sun in New Delhi, sitting in my back yard, enjoying my favorite winter fruit, a big juicy orange, I thanked God for some peace. Away from the noise of a bustling city, the basking felt good on my bones. I closed my eyes to enjoy the juice and allowed the sun’s rays to fall on my face.

My reverie was short-lived as I heard a little girl’s cry. I turned to find the gardener’s 3 year-old granddaughter come running out of the humble dwelling crying loudly and her 3 year-old cousin chasing her to hit her more as he chuckled.

This was nothing new. Often I would hear her cry and sometimes scream and each time I looked out, the little rascal would hit her and give a wicked, victorious smile as their respective mothers looked the other way.

I decided that day to personally tutor the little girl.

I beckoned to her. She looked sulkily as large tear drops moistened her small face. She came when I offered her my orange.

I asked her why she was crying. ”He hit me,” she said as she pointed at the boy. I stared at the little rascal and he stuck his tongue out at me.

I looked around and saw a stick lying on the grass. They had been playing with it. “Pick it up and chase him away,” I said to her. She looked at me, not quite grasping. I said to her again, slowly, “Pick. Up. The. Stick. Do not sit crying and letting him hit you.”She looked at me, smiled and ran toward him with the stick.

The little boy could not believe what happened next. With gay abandon, she aimed the stick on his head and victoriously looked and smiled at me. Then he ran as she chased him away.

I yelled out to the mothers, ”If you do not stop him hitting her now, when he grows up, he will hit his wife and when you are old, he will hit you too. He has to be taught now, not to hit a girl.”

The young mothers, village-bred, look at me and then stared hard at the grass on which they sat soaking the sun. They had nothing to say. I wonder if they even understood what I was attempting to communicate, even as I with my little team advocate gender equality and encouragement and empowerment of women through our multiple radio broadcasts through All India Radio’s multiple channels and innumerable conferences.

Is anyone understanding as we communicate the truth, I wonder. I belong to a country where recent surveys show that women are neglected, victimized, and, in many cases, forced to commit suicide. Being an Indian woman is a very hard life because for millennia women have been made to believe that they are the second sex — and all this teaching begins at home where they are tutored to believe that man is god and a cow is safer than a woman.

Some listen to us and respond and mend their ways. Others continue with their centuries old beliefs. We continue our uphill task and pray that the our people will understand and embrace the truth that all human life is precious to God. We pray that God will open their minds to His truth and that boys and girls would receive equal love in their family units and be allowed to dream and fly.

Come join us in prayer.


Responses

  1. As always, thank you for sharing. We must do our part and take notice, take a stand, and trust God to use us to speak and act for the oppressed. Praise God for Vinita Shaw!


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